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EU Commission Seeks to Ban Anonymous Crypto Wallets

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The EU Commission has released an extensive set of proposals to tighten its anti-money laundering legislation.

The package includes a number of measures, all of which are looking to further increase monetary surveillance in the EU. Aside from an EU-wide ban on cash payments exceeding €10,000, what may interest bitcoiners the most is the proposal to drastically increase the oversight of so-called crypto asset service providers.

As announced by the commission on Tuesday, the enhanced framework would include a new task force dedicated to anti-money laundering and the combating of financial terrorism (AML/CFT). Dubbed the new EU AML Authority, short AMLA, the task force "will be the central authority coordinating national authorities to ensure the private sector correctly and consistently applies EU rules."

It will further seek to establish a unified AML system across the European Union, the "Single EU Rulebook for AML/CFT."

"Existing national registers of bank accounts will be connected, providing faster access for FIUs to information on bank accounts and safe deposit boxes," the commission writes in its announcement. Law enforcement will gain access to this system to accelerate the investigation of cross-border financial crime.

The enhanced rules are set to be extended from "only certain categories of crypto-asset service providers" to "the entire crypto sector, obliging all service providers to conduct due diligence on their customers."

These amendments "will ensure full traceability of crypto-asset transfers, such as Bitcoin, and will allow for prevention and detection of their possible use for money laundering or terrorism financing," the EU Commission states.

In addition, providing "anonymous crypto asset wallets" will be "prohibited" to fully enforce AML/CFT requirements. How the commission seeks to enforce such a ban is unclear. In its Questions and Answers sheet, it writes that the "proposed rules ban the possibility to open or use an anonymous crypto-asset account."

The press release doesn't clearly explain whether the opening of "anonymous" wallets for customized exchanges will be prohibited, or whether "anonymous" wallets will be prohibited in general. The mention of the ban itself, however, implies a strong intent to crack down on non-custodial wallets either way.

Following recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the EU will categorize non-EU countries with regards to their assigned status by FATF, meaning certain countries that do not pursue a similar level of AML enforcement will be grey- or blacklisted.

While this legislative package has yet to be discussed in the European Parliament, the EU Commission shows itself confident that the proposal will be approved and operational in 2024.


UPDATED (Tue Jul 20th, 3:45 p.m. UTC): Added more context to the proposed ban on anonymous wallets.

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Thomas is a journalist at the BTC Times. He enjoys writing about Bitcoin, learning about Bitcoin, and HODLing bitcoin.